Interview: Aldridge on being Portland’s new No. 1 option
Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge spoke with the media Friday at the team’s practice facility in Tualatin, Ore.
Aldridge on Phoenix starting center Jarron Collins:
We don’t know. But that’s how it’s been during the season.
On how he is feeling:
I feel better. Today was a better day for me. I practiced. Tomorrow, I should be better, and I should be ready to go.
On being aggressive with Brandon Roy being out:
I’m going to be the same. I’m not going to take more shots or try to prove anything. I’m going to do what I’ve been doing all season. I think I’ve been aggressive. I’ve been unselfish, and I’m going to play that same way.
On there being more asked of him now:
Of course, but (Roy’s) been out before, hasn’t he? And I’ve played through it. I understand what you all are saying. But I’m not trying to go into my mindset, like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to do more.’ I think if I play solid and I do what I’ve done, we should be OK. We have Rudy (Fernandez) coming in; we have (Jerryd) Bayless and those guys, and we should be good.
On having already played without Roy helping the team:
It does help a little bit. I think if this was the first time playing without him, it would be kind of tough. But we’ve done it and we’ve beat some good teams by doing it — we actually beat them up there without him, so that’s big for us.
On when the team has had success against the Suns, what has worked:
Um … we made shots. (Laughs) If that makes sense. I think to the last game that we beat them, I just think back to everybody playing confident. Us getting to the line; Rudy making shots. I remember I got going early, and I just remember that we were hitting on all cylinders. I think Dre (Miller) made his first five shots; I think we started out, like, 18-2. I think when our rhythm is good, then we always have easy games. So that’s what we’re trying to find right now — a good rhythm.
On how the team is different now compared to a year ago:
This time, you wouldn’t say comfortable, but we know what to expect. We’ve been there. We played in the series last year with Houston — a very physical team. So, we know what we’ve got to do, and we’ve just got to be ready to do it.
On whether he has taken a different approach during the last few weeks of the season:
Nah. Me, personally, I don’t feel like I’ve changed. It might look like it. But I’m still trying to be aggressive; be that guy on the block, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do all season.
I’ve been trying to lead more. Get guys going earlier. Coach (Nate McMillan) has talked to us about getting early starts, so I think I’ve made a focus on getting us going early.
On playing Phoenix:
I like playing anybody. I like playing basketball.
On playing the Suns last year in Phoenix and going against Amare Stoudemire:
I think guys are going to test you and guys will challenge you. I think at that time in that game, I just wanted to show that I could respond to it. And I got the ball and I scored it. I think that’s what guys try to do. Older guys try to test your will; see if you’re tough; see if you’re going to fight through it.
On whether he viewed it as a challenge of his toughness:
I did. And then I got the ball and I scored. I figure if a guy tries to intimidate you, and you don’t try to get the ball back or you fall for it, then it’s like they’ve got mind control over you. So, I just tried to show that I’m not scared of anybody.
On whether he feels he has establish that again in this series:
I think I’ve pretty much done it all season. When we’ve played them, I think they’ve doubled me every game. So, I feel like I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Keep being solid on the block; giving us something solid down low.
On playing low on the block more in recent games, and why:
That’s just how my game is growing. I would say my game is growing more toward the block. I looked at some chart — I haven’t made that many 18-footers in the last two months; all my points are in the paint. I think as you get older and you get stronger and you learn the game more, you tend to go either way. I think my game is going more toward the block, which I like. Because I think I still make an 18-foot jump shot every now and then. (Laughs)
On building toward this the whole season:
Yeah. Nate always challenges me to speak up, be more vocal, be more of a leader. He always tells me that Brandon and myself can do it together. I think this season, I’ve tried to be more vocal and be more of a leader. So, I think it’s going to be a little bit easier to try to lead now. But like I said, we have a bunch of good guys. Dre is a vet; he knows how to lead a team. Marcus Camby, Juwan Howard. So, I’m not worried about that.
On having veterans:
It’s show in games this season where we’d normally lose. And think having vets, they know how to step it up and be leaders.
It can help. But when you lose 20-something points a night, that’s tough. But it can definitely help. And we’ve just got to try and play through it.
On whether he sees this as a personal challenge to take control:
It’s a team sport. Am I playing one against Phoenix? (Laughs) I’m a big key for it. That’s why I said, I have to do what I’ve been doing. Being solid down low; keep being aggressive and being productive down low. I think that’s what they want me to do. I’m not going to try and reinvent the wheel or do anything new. I’m just going to do what I’ve been doing.
On taking shots late in games:
Over the last few games, late in the game, Nate has been giving me more plays down low. … I’ve already kind of gotten used to that, so I think it should be easier now.